Is hot filling same as pasteurization?

Views: 235 Update date: May 06,2023
If you're involved in the food and beverage industry, you've likely heard the terms "hot filling" and "pasteurization" used interchangeably. But are they really the same thing? No. While both processes are used to extend the shelf life of products, they are two distinct methods that have different applications.

Hot Filling
Hot filling is a process used in the packaging of certain types of beverages, such as juice and tea. The process involves heating the liquid to a temperature of around 185-195°F and then filling it into pre-heated bottles or containers. The heat sterilizes the product and the container, killing any bacteria present and reducing the risk of spoilage.

Hot filling is often used for products that are acidic and have a pH of less than 4.6. This is because the acidity of the product helps to kill off harmful bacteria, reducing the need for a more intense pasteurization process. Additionally, hot filling allows for the use of lightweight and flexible packaging materials, making it a cost-effective option for many manufacturers.

Pasteurization is a broader term that refers to the process of heating food and beverages to a specific temperature for a specific amount of time to kill any harmful bacteria present. There are two main types of pasteurization: high-temperature short-time (HTST) and ultra-high temperature (UHT).

HTST pasteurization involves heating the product to a temperature of around 161°F for 15-20 seconds, while UHT pasteurization heats the product to a temperature of around 275°F for just a few seconds. Both methods kill any bacteria present in the product, but UHT pasteurization allows for a longer shelf life, as it is a more intense process.
tunnel pasteurization
Tunnel Pasteurization
While hot filling and pasteurization are different processes, they can be used in conjunction with one another to ensure product safety and extend shelf life even further. One method that combines the two processes is tunnel pasteurization.

Tunnel pasteurization involves heating the product to a temperature of around 140-160°F for several minutes, effectively killing any bacteria present. The product is then cooled down quickly to prevent overcooking and preserve the quality of the product.

Tunnel pasteurization is often used for products with a pH greater than 4.6, which require a more intense pasteurization process. It is also used for products that are sensitive to heat and require a more gentle pasteurization process than HTST or UHT.
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